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Power and Potential: A Comparative Analysis of National Laws and Regulations Concerning Women’s Rights to Community Forests
By: Rights and Resources Initiative
Published: May 24, 2017
Countries: Other, Cameroon, DR Congo, Gabon, Indonesia, Liberia, Myanmar, Republic of Congo, Vietnam
Topics: Community Forestry Community Rights
Document type: Report
Document ID: 7411
View count: 77
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Power and Potential: A Comparative Analysis of National Laws and Regulations Concerning Women’s Rights to Community Forests

Up to 2.5 billion people hold and use the world’s community lands, yet the tenure rights of women—who comprise more than half the population of the world’s Indigenous Peoples and local communities—are seldom acknowledged or protected by national laws. Although gender norms and women’s forest tenure security vary widely across community-based tenure systems, this analysis concludes that national laws and regulations on the rights of indigenous and rural women to inheritance, community membership, community-level governance, and community-level dispute resolution are consistently unjust, falling far below the requirements of international law and related standards.

The 30 low- and middle-income countries analyzed in this study are ill-positioned to meet their obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; non-binding international guidance such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security; and the Sustainable Development Goals, all of which necessitate the statutory recognition of women’s rights to community forests. Inadequate legal protections for the tenure rights of indigenous and rural women fail to reflect existing gender-equitable practices in indigenous and local communities, and enable other community practices that discriminate against women, thereby weakening women’s tenure rights, jeopardizing the livelihoods of women and their families, and threatening the advancement of entire communities.


March 2018 Update: A companion analysis, Legislative Best Practices for Securing Women’s Rights to Community Lands, is now available. Download it here or in the “Relates Analyses” section below, where you can find more resources.

April 2019 Update: A third analysis, Strengthening Indigenous and Rural Women’s Rights to Govern Community Lands: Ten Factors Contributing to Successful Initiatives, is now available. Download it here.